by Gabriele Salami and Jeeltcraft
Anthropologist, anarchist and activist. These are the experiences that David Graeber brings to Internazionale‘s festival of journalism in Ferrara, a couple of hours of interview.
Giuliano Milani, a journalist from the Internazionale’s editorial team, was the moderator. David is the author of “Debt, the first 5000 years” about which he offered a brief introduction, mainly pointed on the historical moral concept of debt, referring to the main religions diffused on the western countries; this theoretical lesson ended with his experience in Madagascar, where direct democracy is a reality due to a lack of presence of the government on rural parts of the nation: he describes this direct democracy as a horizontal method of decision taking, built on the aim of a peaceful coexistence.
This first part of the event, which he says he’d rather finish quickly, lasts less than an hour, during the rest of the time he answered to questions from the public in line with the participation practices that David prefers. Answering he finally finds a way of explaining his philosophy and attitudes.
He talks about the fake crisis in which the western world is in, describing how a resistance is actually growing in our countries, like in the United States, where a large number of people refuse, because of need or because of choice, to pay their debts to public institutions or private banks; through the experience of Occupy Wall Street, explaining as in the US the rules of engagement have changed, and now is actually difficult to assembly in the street without the risk of being injured (and how media do not care about this kind of oppression).
But he doesn’t talk only about difficulties. In fact he offered some proposals built during the Occupy assemblies, practices of buying debts (as a private person) to cancel them (literally to burn them), aiming to a new kind of political order in which the form of delegation that we now know and consider as the only possible form of democracy becomes a more human sized form of direct democracy, like they use to do on the rural parts of Madagascar, or in Bolivia, where political representation can be given and taken from political representative people if they do not behave accordingly with the people they represent; the words that David uses to describe our form of delegation is “delegation of violence”, which have a great connection with the situation he described about Occupy Wall Street.
Dave describes Occupy Wall Street as an evolution of the No Global movement, describing then what other “faces” the No Global movement has used to grow on many different countries and social systems, aiming to defer control and violence of imposed rules.
Greaber doesn’t give a ready-made solution; he speaks about the internal communist organization of many capitalist multinational corporations, and thinks that “capitalism is a bad way of organizing communism” and “we need to find quickly a new and better way of doing so”. He doesn’t explain a method because he thinks the right practice has to grow from the people that use it for direct democracy:
“If people who study on derivatives in Wall Street would study alternative solutions of decision taking probably we would have solved our problems time ago”.
He shows to know many solutions that digital and real world is offering to the debt issue, legal or illegal, but thinks that the main point lies in waking consciousness to free our mind from the moral assumptions inherent in the concept of debt.
He’s convinced that our society as it is won’t work for a long time forward, and he assumes that ordinary people have the concept of working not only for themselves but mainly for a common good, as during natural disasters you can see natural free solidarity between suffering people.
“If a plumber asks his assistant to pass the wrench does the aide ever ask “What will I earn in it?”? Working for the common good is just more simple”.
What he wishes for is a society in which working is cooperation to equity and compromises and discussions for decision taking is a part of everyday life, without the passive expectation of someone to decide for us.
David is convinced that a silent revolution is in action, in multiple forms, that it doesn’t have a leader and neither a defined aim but we have to learn how to listen to its signals.